According to MLB Trade Rumors, San Diego Padres RHP James Shields cleared waivers on Sunday, meaning that San Diego is free to move him to any team the Padres want. Though his contract is pricey, would it make sense for the Atlanta Braves to go after ‘Big Game’ James Shields?
From afar I’ve been a huge fan of James Shields since his days as part of the Tampa Bay Rays. Shields has been an All-Star in 2011 with Tampa Bay, won 122 career games, and headlined to AL Pennant winning rotations (Tampa Bay in 2008 and Kansas City last season). He’s the type of pitcher a GM would want on his pitching staff to get his team into a pennant race.
I’ve thought that James Shields would fit in nicely with the Atlanta Braves, finally having the opportunity to play for an organization with a rich starting pitching tradition like Atlanta. However his contract that he signed with San Diego this offseason is a difficult one to move: signed through 2018, 4 years for $75 Million, and a team option for 2019.
San Diego is in a weird place as an organization this season. The Padres expected to contend for a World Series despite not making the playoffs since 2007. The firing of former Manager Bud Black sent this team into desperate sellers to move many poor contracts. San Diego might have surpassed the Philadelphia Phillies as the MLB’s biggest financial mess. Even after a decent season (8-4, 3.75 ERA, 160 K’s), San Diego is okay with parting ways with Big Game James Shields.
While we all know about John Hart‘s wish to rid the Atlanta Braves organization of all the bad Frank Wren contracts, looking into James Shields’ deal doesn’t seem as ridiculous after first glance. Though he will earn $2.25 Million for the rest of 2015 and additional $21 Million each of the next three years, Shields can opt out his deal after 2016 and could negotiate a more team-friendly deal with his new team.
Though James Shields is going on 34 years of age, I think his veteran presence would do wonders for the Atlanta pitching staff, as nobody on the Atlanta Braves staff is over 24 years old. I can see Shields teaching Julio Teheran better composure, Shelby Miller what it takes to carry a staff, and all the young prospects in the Atlanta organization what it means to play winning Major League Baseball.
I feel like the Atlanta staff needs that veteran leader badly as it’s tough to force either Miller or Teheran into that leadership role at 24. While I don’t think that John Hart would bite at paying James Shields $21 Million next year to pitch in 30 games, Hart has won two trades already with the San Diego Padres this season, so why not rob them a third time?
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Honestly, I don’t see this happening because Atlanta isn’t a contending team yet. Had James Shields cleared waivers this time next season, I could see John Hart making a move to acquire the veteran right-hander as the Braves make a surprise pennant push.
While I would love to see James Shields pitch for the Atlanta Braves and teach our young staff how to win, no way does John Hart compromise the financial flexibility he just gave himself after unraveling Frank Wren’s Gordian Knot of Dysfunction.
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